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Politics

Major Elections in Malaysia

Carmen Ngui May 15, 2018

May 9th was a historic day for Malaysia. After 61 years of ruling since independence in 1957, The National Front (BN) has finally fallen in the general election. A new political party alliance – Alliance of Hope- was chosen by the people to take the nation forward.

On this day, 82% of 14 millions voters in Malaysia, including members of the diaspora, stood up and said “No” to corruption and abuse by voting for a new party. The opposition won 115 out of 222 seats of parliament and defeated BN, which only won 79 seats in the election.

Written like a primetime movie, Tun Mahathir Mohamed, the 93 year old leader of Alliance of Hope who ended BN’s grip of power, was once the leader of BN and Prime Minister of Malaysia in the 80s. Known as the  “Father of Modern Malaysia”, his party he is currently aligned with used to be his “enemy” while he was Prime Minister, especially Anwar Ibrahim, the founder and jailed leader of People’s Justice Party.

Tun Mahathir Mohamed was Anwar’s mentor in his political career. He joined United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), one of the strongest party in The National Front (BN), led by Mahathir in 1982. He moved up the political rank quickly and became Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia after 11 years.

After being Mahathir’s “right-hand man” for 16 years, Anwar was dismissed from his position by his own mentor in 1998,  and sent to jail due to sodomy charges (illegal in Malaysia). Since then Mahathir and Anwar became political enemies. Anwar’s wife, Wan Azizah, was the cofounder of People’s Justice Party. She led Anwar’s supporters to fight for justice for Anwar and stood  against Mahathir for decades.

After serving the country for two decades, Mahathir stepped down in 2003. In 2004, Anwar was freed from jail (he returned to the prison in 2015) and continued his political career by leading the opposition party. It seemed impossible for the two of them to work together given their long and tenuous history, but it happened and it was specifically to take down BN.

With the scandal-plagued Najib Razak, former Prime Minister of Malaysia and chairman of 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Mahathir left UNMO in disgust in 2016 and founded Malaysian United Indigenous Party. With Anwar’s consent, People’s Justice Party and two others political party – Democratic Action Party and National Trust Party finally formed the “Alliance of Hope” and won the election in May 9, 2018.

As Malaysians, we are happy to see the ruling regime realize they are supposed to be serving the people, not the other way around. We hope that our new government will rule Malaysia with integrity and transparency, leading Malaysia to what it could and should have been.